P.I. Michael Kelly most definitely needs it, as there is all kinds of trouble afoot in Chi-town. Starting with an execution-style murder on an L (elevated train) platform that Kelly witnesses, followed by a second L related shooting across town barely an hour later, The Third Rail quickly pulls the reader into the sense of panic that sweeps through the city of Chicago as it realizes there is a spree killer on the loose.
At first thinking he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, Kelly receives a call from someone claiming to be the shooter who indicates that Kelly’s presence at the scene of the first killing was no coincidence. Though dubious that Kelly is somehow the ultimate target in what appears to be a string of random shootings, the FBI / Chicago PD task force working the case reluctantly brings him into the investigation.
And that’s about as much as can be revealed without spoiling what is a spectacularly well plotted thriller. Suffice it to say that before all is said and done the investigation, which seems to get wrapped up about halfway through, actually downshifts, makes a hard turn and rockets off again in another direction that brings Homeland Security, the Archdiocese of Chicago, and Kelly’s old frenemy the Mayor of Chicago into play.
As with the first two installments of the Kelly series, the city of Chicago itself is a central character. From the L trains to the Irish pubs, from the opulence of the Archdiocese to the ominous semi-derelict buildings of the Cabrini-Green public housing development, from Chicago’s infamous brand of ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ politics to everything in between, Harvey effortlessly brings the city to life. Though it’s normally ill-advised to do so, this is one time when you definitely should grab onto The Third Rail.